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Karen Anderson

Age: 61

Occupation:retired real estate broker

Number of Cruises: 14

Cruise Line: Norwegian

Ship: Norwegian Sky

Sailing Date: December 29th, 2002

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

Cruise Line: NCL
Sailing Date: December 29th, 2002

I will not go into the incredible detail that others have since it would be redundant. The only comment I want to start with is that the opinion of many about the hair dryers was not shared by me. I found it perfectly adequate but do have short hair. I also tried to find out if the space under the beds would accommodate the new fat luggage and found that it did. Though the rooms are smaller than usual for such a new ship, we had plenty of room for our things. We travel with two medium sized bags. I was astounded to see huge and many bags outside doors the last night - where on earth did they put everything?? We were shocked to discover that ocean view means a porthole in almost all the cabins. Even the balcony cabins have a small door and porthole.

We did not like this ship for many reasons and will not return. The itinerary is

San Juan
day at sea
St Lucia
Barbados
Dominica
St Kitts
St Thomas
San Juan

In the airport at San Juan, Carnival and RCCL were also greeting passengers. Carnival, esp, was all over the place at every door happily finding their people. NCL passengers were wandering aimlessly, asking everyone if anyone from the ship was there. By accident, I found the trio hunkered down by the bathrooms, in a far corner of the luggage pickup, nowhere near the entrance or exit where everyone else was. Not good. Their transfer costs for a couple were twice the cost of a cab.

Check-in, however, was a breeze and we anticipated possible problems since we purchased the cruise at the last minute at www.skyauction.com and had no documents. There is no special greeting in the port building, no music or anticipation.

We wandered around Old San Juan that evening, departing at 10 PM, and had a great time. Lots of neon decorations for Christmas and New Year's. Live bands in the plazas, shops open, etc.

We were looking forward to Freestyle Dining BUT it turned out to be a huge disappointment. The night at sea, so many wanted to eat at 7 PM that a lot were turned away with an hour wait. This happened again later as well. There are two main dining rooms and three extra fee ones. We did not eat at any of the special ones. The food was really mediocre - a lot like RCCL's Vision of the Seas. They took expensive ingredients and ruined them. I cannot believe that a White House chef is their consultant. The wait staff is mostly Filipino and quite subdued. We did have the same waiter several times and he did not smile at us until the last night! With tips automatically taken from you, little incentive to over perform. We certainly did not give extras. Because so many on the ship complained about Freestyle, it was explained by the hotel asst manager, the staff is weary from listening and dispirited. Good grief - fun is what a cruise is about and fun was missing. No Macarena through the dining room because people are coming and going. The hostess made little attempt to put people together at large tables. You would see couples strung through the dining room waiting to have others join them. Toward the end, the wine stewardess asked if we were having fun and we really unloaded on her about our wanting to share a table to get to know some fellow passengers and not ever having anyone brought to us. She went to the hostess and told her that we were so unhappy that we would never cruise with Sky or NCL again. After that, the hostess made a greater effort. However, it is not the same as sitting each night with people and really getting to know them. I only recommend Freestyle if you bring your own friends.

The buffet food was really poor - reminiscent of Hometown Buffet. We ate there for a few breakfasts but that was about it. Ice cream sundaes in the afternoons were nice though. If you instruct the pizza guy, you can get a pretty good pizza in Ciao Chow. He was very stingy with sauce and did not really like to make custom pizzas but, heck, the ingredients were there. He was the surliest staff we met.

St Lucia
- did not take the tours. We bought a painting there years ago and wanted to find the artist. Turns out she owns a restaurant on the water so we ate at the Coal Pot - takes two water taxies. Nice veranda. Food OK. Met the artist. Happy day. One possible excursion you could take on your own is to the Hilton where you can lunch in a sandy cove with the Pitons on either side. Expensive cab ride, however.

Barbados - again did not take the ship's excursions. Had been before. Took a shuttle to the beach with others - $3 each, each way. Ship has a shuttle to the same beach for $22 RT! If you go, you will be dropped at a fancy entrance where they will try to extract $10 each from you. Walk a few yards over and you can enter free! All beaches are free but this one has some "amenities" they want you to pay for: play equip for kids, etc.

Dominica - rained all day. We went to the museum at the end of the dock area. Had also been there before.

St Kitts - the real reason for our being on this cruise. We really wanted to try the "new" excursion on the St Kitts Scenic Railway but were appalled at the ship's price of $89 each. So we planned to take the train in the afternoon on our own. We found the office but they would not sell us tickets, protecting the revenue for the ship! So we hired a cab and toured the fort and a botanical garden. At the fort, the cab driver told us the train had derailed - AGAIN! - and all the drivers were being called to pick up passengers. No one was injured but we found out that it has only made the trip ONCE! without derailing. We saw the tipped car. Suggest you not pick that trip and not buy stock in their company either! Cab driver says the train fee is $50 if you are not on a ship.

St Thomas - been there a lot! We took a cab to Morningstar Beach where, after about an hour, it began to rain. Ostensibly, you have to rent chaises there but no one cared. Beach has quite a drop off now, thanks to a hurricane. We planned to buy lunch there but one of the restaurants was closed and we took off back to the ship with the rain. It is fun to take the tram to the top of the hill for the view. It is across the street from the dock.

San Juan - we did like the Freestyle departure, staying in our room until time to leave. We were independents and were happy to be among the earlier times since we were off to the Hyatt Cerromar for a day on the beach.

The excursion director only showed up from 730 to 9 PM and you had to book by 4 the day before or you were out. So really, you had to book two days in advance.

New Year's Eve was fun but not spectacular. Topside, there were some sparkler like fountains, the horn blew and we had noise makers. Had never done New Year's before and thought it was a bigger deal. It was the only dress up night and even that was optional.

Really, our main complaint was about the poor staff attitude. It permeated the ship and affected the passengers. Whereas, on Carnival, people greet you in the halls, that did not occur here. The FUN atmosphere was missing. We have been told by Carnival Legend staff that Carnival treats its staff the best. Maybe that is the problem with NCL. It is not a happy bunch. The hotel asst manager said he had been on Star and people there were so unhappy with Freestyle that he could not wait to get off the ship. Something has got to change here. And we passengers cannot register our unhappiness with tips so is anyone listening???

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